Joy Williams – Front Porch
Americana | Country
We don’t fall in love with perfection. The heart wants what it wants, and even if you were given the chance to choose a perfect partner down to every last detail, you’d still end up falling for someone who is far from your ideal match instead. Love works in mysterious ways, it catches you off-guard, and you never know when someone or something will resonate with you in such a way as to light the flames of love from a single ember of affection. I’m sure I’ve heard albums that do most everything that Front Porch does better on paper, but none of them quite strike a chord with me as much as this.
Part of that certainly lies in the lyricism. It doesn’t matter how eloquent you are if you can’t find the right words. We are drawn to sad songs to be understood, even if we can’t articulate what we’re feeling even to ourselves. In Joy’s exploration of love and heartbreak, she lends a sympathetic and reassuring voice. Tracks like ‘When Does A Heart Move On’, ‘The Trouble With Wanting’ and ‘No Place Like You’ are the kind of break up songs that manage to capture exactly how you feel, and even sometimes tell you exactly what you need to hear. All this mainly occurs in the verses, as this record’s one glaring flaw lies in the fact that its choruses are often too simple and repetitive. A notable exception however would be the title track, with brilliant lines like “whatever you’ve done it doesn’t matter, cos darling we’re all a little splintered and battered” making it one of the most moving and memorable hooks I’ve heard all year.
While the music takes the backseat to allow Joy’s stunning vocals room to shine, most notably on the stripped back ‘Hotel St Cecilia’, there’s still a nice mix of gorgeous arrangements to be found. ‘Canary’ and ‘When Creation Was Young’ have a dark and gritty western vibe, ‘One and Only’ has some beautiful Spanish sunset vibes, and the album as a whole is set to gentle acoustic lines and the soft swell of steel guitars. Entering this album with only a vague recollection of Joy’s work in The Civil Wars, her latest solo record has been one of the most pleasant surprises of 2019. If you find Front Porch as affecting as I do then this record will instil in you a love that was made to last.